Today we’re taking a look at the Inearz Audio Fusion custom in-ear monitor. It boasts six balanced armature drivers per side and has a smooth, full-bodied signature. But first here is a little background.
In the year 2003 Fisher Hearing Technologies was formed by Mr Kim Alan Fisher. After leaving the United States Air Force in 1976, Kim has been involved in the personal audio business. He created his own integrated crossover and has been working on perfecting the InEarZ brand since the company’s inception. Originally known for their expertise in re-shelling the family-run business has since come into maturity with their own custom in-ear monitors.
This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I’m not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own.
- Excellent build quality
- Warm and musical
- Value for money
- Great customer service
- Tonality might be a little too warm for some
- 2 Low, 2 Mid, 2 High Balanced Armatures
- Triple Bore Design
- Impedance: 20 Ohm @ 1kHz
- Noise Isolation: -26dB (+/- 2dB)
- Input connector: 1/8″ (3.5mm)Stereo Jack
- Shells made from medical grade, hypoallergenic acrylic
Package and accessories
The Fusion arrived in a very robust, large, black, Pelican type case. First impressions are great as you get a personalized label with your name etched onto it. Inside you’ll find an Inearz sticker, a microfiber cleaning cloth, wax-cleaning tool and of course the custom IEMs. You might be expecting a little more but what else could you possibly need! Actually, now that I think of it, it would be nice to get a secondary, more portable clamshell case that can fit in a pocket.
The included 2-pin detachable cable seems to be the standard type that comes with many custom in-ear monitors. It’s a little thin above the Y-split but it’s very supple, lightweight and unobtrusive. It comes with a chin slider and terminates in an L-shaped plug. Strain reliefs are good from top to bottom.
Build quality and customization
The team at Inearz recently implemented a system that allows you to buy directly via their website. You can now also choose your preferred colours and designs all on the same page. While it isn’t as jazzy as the ones that give you a real-time preview it certainly makes the ordering process a lot easier.
I chose the even easier route and left the design up to them. Hey, I like surprises! If you’re buying one yourself though you will probably want to make those choices and luckily for you, there are heaps of possible variations. You can customize almost every aspect of the design, including cable, shell, canal and faceplate colours. In addition, you can choose the logo colour and even custom artwork.
The pair I received has teak faceplates with transparent purple shells and gold logo. Inearz also prints your initials on the inside of the shells which adds to the customization and rationalization. The build is very tidy with no visible flaws. You can see the intricate inner workings through the transparent shells which are pretty cool. The faceplates are attached seamlessly to the shells to create a cohesive single piece.
All Inearz in-ear monitors come with a one-year External Shell/Internal Parts Warranty as well as a 30-day Fit Warranty so you should feel confident that you’ll end up with a well-built pair of IEMs with a good fit.
Comfort and fit
These are the most comfortable of the CIEMs in my collection so far. The shells have smooth, rounded edges and the team did a fantastic job of recreating the shape of my ears. This should come as no surprise as their technicians have 20+ years experience in the in-ear monitor and hearing aid industry.
To get the best fit depends on sending in good quality ear impressions so make sure you know the requirements beforehand and let your audiologist know before you get your impressions done. This will ensure you get the best possible results when it comes to seal and comfort.
The Inearz Audio Fusion has a warm and smooth signature. On the website it is described as having a “V-shaped curve” but I personally find it to be fairly mid-centric with a weighted low end.. The sound, which is characterized by its meaty bass and fairly forward midrange is still nicely balanced from top to bottom. This IEM is tuned for musicality rather than reference, although having said that, it is still transparent and tonally accurate. It’s organic and natural with lots of body and a laid-back nature. When called upon though the Fusion can get up and dance, particularly when it comes to bass if you turn up the volume.
Mid-bass punches with authority but only when it’s meant to. Katatonia’s “Leech” is a track I use often to test impact and here the Fusion obliges in spades. Thundercat’s “Uh Uh” shows that the Fusion is no slouch either when it comes to frantic renditions. It delivers the track with ease, putting out well-defined notes in earnestness all without compromising the mids and highs.
It’s not the most textured bass but tends to focus more on body which contributes to the Fusion’s smooth and rich presentation.
The Fusion’s sub-bass has great extension but doesn’t hit as hard in the subterranean levels as it does in the lower mid-bass region. There is enough quantity there though to let you feel the shells vibrating in your ears but it doesn’t turn your legs to jelly. However, tracks like Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance” sound nothing short of amazing with the Fusion transforming those sound waves into a palpable presence.
As we move into the mids the Fusion’s smooth character really comes to light. It’s smooth again but also resolving at the same time. It comes to the forefront, often placing itself in front of the bass. Liquid and velvety are words that come to mind, The Fusion’s mids have a richness that will just draw you in and hold you there.
Björk’s “Blissing Me” showcases the sultry nature of the Fusion, with her vocals taking the spotlight while the plucked strings in the song seem to float up from out of nowhere and envelop the singer’s voice. While this isn’t an ultra-detailed IEM there are still loads of small details to be heard but it’s certainly more on the musical rather than analytical side of things.
In “Tear You Up” from the Pineapple Thief’s Where We Stood (In Concert) acoustic guitars are masterfully reproduced and electric guitars have a tangible crunch. The Fusion does a fine job with Bruce Soord’s vocals which are raspier and grittier than in the studio recorded version.
Here the Fusion continues to impress with a treble that is sweet as chocolate syrup but crisp and light as a lime sorbet. Dr Dre’s “It’s All On Me” can be a challenge for monitors with its sharp tambourine and sibilant vocals but that’s not an issue here. The Fusion takes it all in stride with that tambourine fading off into the distance with excellent timbre and presence.
Cymbals and high hats sound equally tidy, with a very controlled sparkle and natural decay. The treble sounds so clean and so good but sometimes I wanted to hear a bit more of it. For my preference (and of course this is subjective) I’d like the level of the treble to be a bit more prominent. The quality is unquestionably good but a little more quantity would add some bite and energy to balance out that warmth. Overall it’s a tad subdued although it is wondrously clear.
Soundstage and imaging
While not the widest of stages, the Fusion is adept at portraying depth in a palpable space. Sounds do seem to float outside of the headspace but they’re still close enough to make you feel like you could reach out and touch them.
Where it does find a notable strength is in its stereo separation which is perfectly showcased in Bob Marley and the Wailers “Is This Love” with the sounds very clearly separated and the echo of the guitar bouncing from left to right. The Inearz Fusion gives a clear representation of instrument and sound positions that add a great deal to immersion.
Sources and compatibility
The Inearz Audio Fusion isn’t as sensitive as some other IEMs and in pairing it with several different sources I didn’t notice any background hiss. I did find some slight variations in the sound however and over time discovered which sources I favoured to pair with the Fusion.
Starting with the TOPPING DX7 bass seems a little looser, perhaps affected by the 10 Ohm single-ended output impedance. Details overall are very good with the DX7’s neutrality working well with the Fusion’s inherent warmth.
The Acoustic Research AR-M20 makes the mids a bit fuller and bring vocals more forward. With its Burr-Brown PCM5242 doing the DAC duties the AR-M20 is perhaps not the best match for the Fusion’s already warm nature. Having said that this pairing certainly still sounds good but doesn’t provide the best synergy.
Onto the Arcam irDAC-II and this one caught me unawares. I wasn’t expecting this pairing to work so well but it really rocks when paired with the Inearz Audio Fusion. The irDAC-II has a rhythm and sense of timing that’s hard to beat and turns the Fusion’s already velvety sound into a delectable liquid delight. The details are just superb and treble extension is better than the other sources I tested. This was definitely my favourite driving source for the Inearz Audio Fusion.
Inearz Audio Fusion Comparisons
Custom Art FIBAE 2
The Inearz Audio Fusion is inEarz’ newest six driver CIEM which has just been officially released. It’s perhaps not the fairest of comparisons considering the Fusion has three times the driver count but I can only use what I have on hand to compare with, which at this stage is very limited as far as CIEMs go.
The Fusion has a more weighted bass but it’s not quite as textured as the F2 and doesn’t have the same defined edge and transients. Despite having more quantity in the bass the Fusion smooths it over and doesn’t hit with the same aggressive rawness that makes the F2 so fun to listen to but it takes the crown when it comes to weighted impact.
Midrange is more forward on the Fusion but again its transients are less defined and have a rounded edge which makes the presentation smoother and less gritty. Where the Fusion pulls ahead here though is its instrument separation and rendering of complex passages. It has a cleaner and more refined approach and superior resolution.
The FIBAE 2 has a more energetic treble where the Fusion once again goes for a softer and less aggressive one, putting more emphasis instead on its upper midrange. This gives the FIBAE 2 a slightly lighter and airier high end. I’m not going to crown either IEM as a winner here because they’re both excellent in their own way and each has its own unique approach.
The Inearz Audio Fusion custom in-ear monitor is a fine addition to the company’s lineup. While so many producers are concentrating on neutrality and accuracy the Fusion aims to be warm, musical and tuned for enjoyment.
Inearz’ experience and expertise are evident not only in the sound of their IEM but also in the craftsmanship of their shells. As I mentioned earlier these are the most comfortable of all the custom monitors I’ve used thus far (your mileage may vary). The Inearz Audio Fusion is, as its name suggests, a blend of smoothness and transparency. If you like some warmth and a solid low end from your in-ear monitors then be sure to add this one to your list of possibilities. Whether you’re a musician or just enjoy quality audio, the Fusion gets a solid recommendation.